I’ve quit whining about how old I am. No more fishing for comforting compliments to hear, “You look terrific – you couldn’t possibly be that old.” I’ve finally come to appreciate being an old dame, one who knows a thing or two about a thing or two. Best of all, most of the time I can even remember where I parked my car. An eighty-year-old face greets me in the mirror every morning, and surprisingly, I’m not repelled by her. The bones are the same, but the upholstery has changed. The “line fairy” comes every night now, leaving behind new wrinkles, brown age spots, and carry-on luggage added to under-eye baggage. Those deposits don’t bother me nearly as much as they once did.
I’ve decided that making the leap into an undeniably elder status has made me take this aging thing seriously. I’m easing into my new reality and learning to embrace the evidence of having lived a long time. I’m kinder to this body, which carried and fed three babies, endured broken bones, replacement parts, and surgeries to stamp out threatening conditions. Yet, it still functions well enough to allow me to do almost everything I want.
I am galloping toward my sell-by date and have gotten grieving for my younger self out of the way, so I’m spending less time contemplating the past and more time figuring out how I’ll make the most of the ride. I’ve always heard that time passes more quickly as we age, and at 80, time is practically in reverse! Weeks flash by, even though I’m isolated and have few pressing projects. I can count how many vigorous years are left to me on fewer fingers than I possess.
Recognizing those facts makes me realize that I can’t afford to squander a moment. I’ve accomplished much in my life, but I’ve also frittered away too much time on useless yearnings, appeasing others, reviewing and punishing myself and others for shortcomings and bad behavior, and vigorously worrying about things that usually never happen. If there was ever a time to stop such nonsense, it arrived on October 1, 2020, when the family gathered to celebrate this old girl.
Many factors have contributed to my introspection. My husband, Tim Martin, died suddenly in November 2019. It was a terrible shock and a dramatic reminder of our finite human condition. I spent a year grieving, analyzing our years together, and facing a future alone. Those odious chores were complicated by my nearing that inevitable 80th milestone. Add to that our country’s unsettling plunge into lockdown and our harrowing political struggle, and you’ve got ] honest-to-god annus horribilis 2020. Those months of self-examination, not usually my frenetic style, have resulted in a new search for my place in the world.
The question for this newly widowed, newly octogenarian, newly single woman is what’s next? Or as Miss Peggy Lee so artfully asks, “Is that all there is?” Next time I’ll share my discoveries about scintillating topics like sex, love, and rock ’n roll with you if you’re interested in my musings.
In the meantime, I wish you holiday greetings, a Merry Christmas, and a better New Year!